Volcov has been an Italian advocate for souful, melodic house music for well over 20 years, launching Archive in 1997 and Neroli in the year 2000. He took the label’s name from the 1993 Brian Eno album, inspired by the idea of Eno crafting “harmonies inspired by the smell of the essence Neroli.”
Fittingly, the nine-track compilation focuses on delicate, introspective material. The First Circle includes exclusive material from Neroli alumnus Dego, Fred P and Patrice Scott, along with the likes of Kirk Degiorgio, Linkwood and K15. Volcov also has a track on the compilation, a collaboration with Detroit lynchpins Gerald Mitchell and Piranhahead.
We spoke with Volcov about Neroli’s first 20 years.
How does The First Circle tell the story of Neroli Records’ first 20 years?
The label had an evolution in these 20 years, from being a more tracky spin-off to Archive (the other label I was doing at the time) to a more musical, eclectic sound. The First Circle album is not really a summary or what we have been doing or where we will go. It’s more a one-off project, but something i always wanted to do. The kind of record I imagine I would find at Fat Cat in ’96, but at the same time assembled with a modern sensibility.
The First Circle includes a track where you collaborate with key Detroit artists Gerald Mitchell and Piranhahead. How did this team-up come about?
Gerald Mitchell came to Italy few times around 2009 and 2010 for few gigs as Los Hermanos and we ended up doing some studio sessions in Milan. There are a few unreleased compositions that also feature Paul Randolph and Piranahead that I hope will surface this year or next one. This particular one was really a late-night thing before leaving the studio, Piranahead literally woke up from the studio sofa to do his guitar solo in one take. I just recouped the session and finally mixed it down. It’s almost a live and direct recording but felt right to include it in this project.
You named your label after the Brian Eno album and refer to this compilation of delicate and atmospheric songs as bringing the label’s concept full circle. Can you explain how The First Circle feels like a return to the label’s original inspiration? What guidance did you give to the artists?
Back when i started Neroli, I wanted to separate it from Archive, which was a bit more conceptual (music to be collected and so on), and the name seemed good for the project, without many other subtle meanings. The idea behind that record, with Brian Eno composing harmonies inspired by the smell of the essence Neroli, really stuck in my head so I chose to use it for the label.
Along the way things got a bit more articulated and musical and when I was approaching the anniversary and 50th release, it seemed natural to go back to where it started and do an album which had a sort of intimacy—delicate melodies, introspection. I explained this to the artists and they came up with songs that were in perfect tune with the original idea. Very grateful to have so many talents on board.
Obviously, you had tour dates planned to Neroli’s 20th anniversary and complement The First Circle, but in a way, the compilation comes also along at a perfect time. What makes the compilation ideal for the moment?
Yeah, we had a whole bunch of projects and some really exciting tour dates pencilled down. Of course we had to recalibrate the whole schedule and plans, but all the releases will go ahead as planned. We did a special Bandcamp-only seven inch that featured tracks by Marcello Napoletano, myself and Deenamic, and in the last few months we put out EPs from Chaos In The CBD, Dego, Fred P, Trinidadian Deep and Patrice Scott.
The First Circle somehow closes this busy period of releases of club-focused material with something a bit different. It’s an album you can actually listen to from start to finish without the need to skip the needle, something that hopefully can be perceived as a listening experience to get lost in. I would have never thought when I started working on the project that the album would have fit the times so well…
Listen to previews of The First Circle.
A1 K15 – Disillusioned
A2 Kirk Degiorgio – Leave Everything Behind
A3 Patrice Scott – Untitled
A4 AYBEE – River Of Evermore
B1 Ian o’Brien – Music Comes From Within
B2 Gerald Mitchell / Volcov / Pirahnahead – Snow
B3 Dego – 31 Losses 31 Wins
B4 Fred P- Star Crossed
B5 Linkwood – Citrus
Neroli will release The First Circle on May 22nd, 2020.